Why you might be grinding your teeth, and why you might want to get help.
Grinding of teeth, also known as bruxism, is quite common, and almost everyone has done it at some point in their lives. While it is most common to grind your teeth at night in your sleep, there are some who even do it during their waking hours.
Why do we grind?
Bruxism has a number of potential causes, and not everyone grinds their teeth for the same reasons, but there are a couple of causes that might lead to bruxism.
Stress and anxiety
An abnormal bite and/or crooked/missing teeth
Side effects: medication and alcohol and tobacco use can sometimes cause grinding
Age: young children tend to grind their teeth but this usually goes away with age
Caffeine: consuming caffeinated beverages in the evening has been linked to some cases
Should you seek help?
Again, almost everyone will grind their teeth at some point in their lives, however persistent and severe bruxation often requires intervention. If you grind your teeth frequently, you may experience temporomandibular joint disorders, damage to your teeth and pain in your face, teeth and jaw.
What is TMJ and TMD? Your questions answered.
What is TMJ/TMD?
TMJ is a commonly used abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint, also known as the jaw joint. These joints connect the mandible to the skull and allow for the range of jaw motion through the muscles in the area. When the joints do not work together with the muscles, that is when TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, occurs. TMD symptoms can include jaw pain and limitations in jaw movement such as locking or limited ability to open or close the jaw.
How do you treat TMD?
The correct course of treatment for TMD varies from case to case, and depends largely on the type and severity of symptoms. Self-treatment is always recommended first and includes the use of cold and warm moist compresses, over-the-counter pain reliever and a soft diet until symptoms subside. It is also recommended to avoid activities that put additional strain on the jaw muscles which includes yawning widely, chewing gum and eating hard or chewy foods. If symptoms persist, or are greater in severity, it is a good idea to consult with your dentist or your local orthodontic specialist who might recommend a splint or orthodontic treatment to correct a bite discrepancy that might be causing TMD. Surgery for TMD is usually only recommended as a last resort to treat TMD after all other methods of treatment have been exhausted, and extreme caution is advised for those seeking surgical treatment for TMD.
If you are experiencing TMD symptoms, and would like additional information on how bite correction can help provide you with relief, contact your local orthodontic specialists at Walker Dixon Orthodontics to schedule an exam. For the Fishers location, call 317-570-0011, or for the Indianapolis location, call 317-849-0110.